User talk:Pfctdayelise/WikiProjects community
As you are surely aware, various WikiProjects have sprung up at the English Wikipedia. AFAIK, they were born spontaneously, just by people with similar interests joining forces and self-organizing. IMO, this is the only way to have successful projects. It makes no sense to define projects up front; people themselves have to feel the need to reach out and collaborate with others with similar interests. You can't decree projects. The best you can do is create a project, manage it actively, reach out to find people willing to participate, and hope the idea catches on. Lead by example, and only then, if necessary, develop policies condensing the "best practices" learned from already existing projects.
To a certain extent, WikiProjects also tend to fragment the community. Especially if, like you wrote, the central place for discussion (the Village pump) would be abolished. There are certainly topics that touch upon matters that concern more than just a single project, and we'll still need a place to discuss them. It's already bad enough with the language fragmentation of the VP. Doing away with the VP altogether would be a grave mistake, I think.
"Integrate, don't isolate" is a nice slogan, but difficult to live up to, considering that such projects typically attract people who have one main interest (which coincides with the purpose of the project). In my experience, generalists who are interested in a wide range of topics rarely can be bothered to actively participate in projects, and even more rarely are they active in several projects.
WikiProjects tend to increase a feeling of "ownership" over certain topics. It is difficult to avoid this. At the Commons, this may be a problem in particular if, like you proposed, deletions are made the domain of a special Copyrights project. Copyrights are an overarching concern and problem; relegating the issue to a specific project may lead to several undesirable effects such as other projects caring less and delegating responsibility to that copyright project ("tell the copyright guys", "can we use that? Just upload it, if the copyright guys don't complain, it's fine"), the copyright project becoming a scapegoat blamed and attacked each time someone's pet image is deleted, and the copyright project participants thinking only they knew about copyrights.
The bit about admins puzzles me. Admins are volunteers like everyone else, with their own interests, like everyone else. Why do they even enter the equation? If an admin feels attracted to a project, he or she will do work for the project. If not, so be it. If a project has a need for an admin participating in the project (what for? Deletions and copyright are not specific to one project!), the project participants could propose a suitable candidate to become an admin.
Basically, I believe that WikiProjects can only be successful if they grow out of a grassroots movement. Defining them top-down is, IMO, unlikely to work. People already do collaborate on certain topics. If we're not seeing any projects, maybe it's because these people don't see the need for any more organized form of collaboration? If we'd like to see more visible collaboration ("hey, look, we've got a documented project about this!"), why not contact some of them and propose the idea to them and see if it catches on?
Lupo 07:34, 3 July 2007 (UTC)
- Hm. I just added a section about a 'Project Council' and how they would set a project's status as inactive/semi-active/active/umbrella. The projects that I listed as "top-level" were ones that I conceptualise as the top level - some would only be umbrella inactive projects. For example Quality control. The existing 'projects' of IFC, QI, FP, all work perfectly fine as they are. Conceptually they are related by this idea, of judging/improving quality. So I wouldn't try and force an active 'Quality control' project, just note that it is how the three active ones are related.
- I don't intend to try and "decree" projects but to try and strongly encourage the behaviour of participating in a project. IMO activity on Commons is already fairly naturally segmented and this is only a slightly formal statement of that. People have natural interests and they usually don't span the entire spectrum of Commons activity. The SVG improvers != the copyright experts != bot writers != categorisers != FPC voters and so on.
- "Ownership": yes, this sometimes motivates people to do a lot of work (good outcome) and sometimes makes people obsessive about the "right" to determine the final form of some page or edit (bad). It is kind of an ongoing problem anyway. I suspect an overarching policy about conduct/wikiquette is needed to combat "bad" ownership.
- Ownership implies responsibility, which is not something always present in a wiki, so I don't think it's a completely bad concept.
- You are right that copyrights are an overarching concern, which is why COM:L would remain a sitewide policy (or maybe a simplified version of it). I definitely don't want the case that people go "oh, let the copyright people worry about it" -- that's already how the rest of Wikimedia treats Commons, sometimes! I'm uncertain about the best way to deal with copyrights/deletion.
- The actual development of project has to be grassroots, I agree. This idea is more about pushing the entire community to the project model. I feel Commons is reaching the stage where things start to fall apart a little bit. The old model no longer works because there's too many people and they don't all share the core values. What model will keep Commons as a healthy community which avoids the case of people feeling disenfranchised and undervalued? How do we avoid the pitfalls of English Wikipedia? Do you have some other ideas? --pfctdayelise (说什么?) 05:23, 4 July 2007 (UTC)
I agree that Commons is getting into a phase where one can no longer know all members of the community. But in fact, I think this has already happened, and the Commons community has already split itself up, based on interest. A part of the community is busy with the organization (categorization), a part with the clean up (copyvios, new image patrol, rc patrol), and a part with the images itself (FP, QI). Those three are distinct parts of the community and seldom meet each other.
I see that Commons is going through an phase of change: we are growing, I have seen some users leaving or feeling no longer part of the community, and we have made or will have to make important decisions in the nearby future, related to categorization, licensing and adminship.
You will see that the de facto sub-communities will decide those issues, without involvement of other groups. Same happens generally with WikiProjects. I don't know whether this is good or bad. On one hand, some people actually don't care about, for example, categorization. On the other hand, those are important decisions, that at least need attention of the whole community. Creating Commons:Discussion index, with a list of active discussions, will greatly increase awareness of this. (Sounds like a bot job to create an index of all active discussions.)
We might actually be on a point where the future of Commons is determined, both internal (community) and external (influencing for example Creative Commons).
- Thanks for sharing your thoughts. :)
- Users leaving is natural in a wiki, but if MANY users are leaving with a feeling of BADWILL about Commons (as opposed to merely developing other interests, not having enough time etc), then that is something I want to do something about, I want to reduce that feeling as much as possible. You are right that to some extent Commons activity is already compartmentalised - some of my idea is just to formalise that and make explicit the links between Commons' overall goals and a project's more specific goals.
- Wikis are indeed a bad tool for organising and notifying about discussions. :) --pfctdayelise (说什么?) 05:26, 4 July 2007 (UTC)
Projects seem a good idea to me, but I would not go so far as to abolish the VP. On other wikis it often is a good place to start discussions, sound out folks from lots of areas etc. Without it, or some other mechanism to get general feedback and give notices of things of interest, the danger of multiple silos of interest is even worse.
I also agree that projects cannot be imposed top down. Write some templates and skeletons to make it easy to form projects and for them all to have similar structure, and announce, then see who nibbles. Getting a project off the ground is hard from the grassroots, make tools to make it easier... ++Lar: t/c 12:02, 3 July 2007 (UTC)
- Well, I would replace the VP with an announcements board, the difference being that messages on the announcements board tell you about discussions taking place elsewhere. The VP as a discussion board is BREAKING if not BROKEN in my opinion - Commons is now too large for that model to work. It's too difficult to find relevant past discussions and they move too quickly to get proper feedback from any more than two or three people, typically. Now we have some five or ten discussion boards instead of one.
- I don't intend to say "here are 10 projects and everyone has to join at least one", but rather to encourage the entire community to adopt the project model, and let people choose themselves about which projects they might be interested in taking part in. You are right that templates/skeleton documents for projects have to be developed first. --pfctdayelise (说什么?) 05:32, 4 July 2007 (UTC)
I think I think that this is a good idea and equally happening to some extent anyway. It also makes me realise that there are parts of Commons I have nothing to do with - not because I don't want to but because I just don't have enough time. I agree with some that top down imposition is unlikely to work and "guided" evolution may well be better.
On some of the detail I see RC/new pages as part of vandalism patrolling, or reverse that if preferred (& there are quite a few active folk in that area). I'd just throw in another group and that would be a meta group - they are (among others) the folk who are contributing here? I'll think some more but thanks for the stimulus, worthwhile --Herby talk thyme 12:17, 3 July 2007 (UTC)
- I added the idea of a 'Project Council' which would be your 'meta group' I believe.
- I really dislike the idea of a anti-vandalism project, because it's so negative and leads away from the mindset of 'AGF'. Newbie user tests seeing if they can really edit a page -- I see that called vandalism and it's not at all an appropriate label. I see people call other people they disagree with 'vandals' -- nowhere near appropriate label. So something like a NI/RC patrol project would, I believe, fall under 'Quality control'/'Copyrights' and 'Helping others', and I wouldn't mention the "v-word" at all. Focusing on vandalism leads to this mindset of the wiki as a fortress that must be protected from those who don't know what they're doing (unlike us). It's not encouraging of newbies at all, or the possibility of reforming "testers" into useful participants. --pfctdayelise (说什么?) 05:37, 4 July 2007 (UTC)
- I guess I was making the point that I see dealing with pages/edits that are out of project scope (:-)) as part of new page/RC etc. I am more than happy with not using the "V" word for anything other than a relatively small number who either do not or would not attend to warnings. Still thinking tho --Herby talk thyme 14:43, 4 July 2007 (UTC)
I think Commons are growing and? as result of grow, fragmenting. It's hard to participate in all activities because of lack of time. From other side changing activities is useful medicine for boredom :-) I think we need to make accent on projects which will bind community: Commons:Journal, Commons:CommonTasks and etc. It's good way to advertise and discover other interesting projects and ideas and also improve relationships in community. --EugeneZelenko 14:39, 4 July 2007 (UTC)
- I particularly like the idea of resurrecting the Commons:Journal - encouraging communication in any way possible is always good as far as I am concerned --Herby talk thyme 14:45, 4 July 2007 (UTC)
- I never had much faith in Commons:CommonTasks, because there is so much to do anyways that organization of it isn't necessary.
- The Journal might have a future -- yea I agree communication in any way is nice..
- A while back I created a draft for a bulletin with regular memos to all admins, with info about backlogs etc. As it often happens I didn't complete the task, but you might want to check the draft at Commons:Community bulletin. I think it is a good idea to just send out a little memo with just the most important stuff.
- Fred J 10:05, 16 July 2007 (UTC)
- There is good news and bad news here Fred (& anyone else). I got an en Wikibooks bulletin off the ground with some effort at the end of last year. We created a "Staff" account to send it via bot and planned to do it maybe monthly...... Only one ever went! There was no real feedback on it and (other than me & maybe one other) no one else seemed interested in adding to it. I'll happily support the idea though as communication in a virtual world still seems very important to me --Herby talk thyme 09:35, 17 July 2007 (UTC)
- Fred, some bits there that look very similar to what I wrote at User:Pfctdayelise/Commons:Newsletter (my draft :)).
- I'm happy to spend some time trying to get this off the ground but it won't be until mid-August at least. lack of internet access at home is killing me! pfctdayelise (说什么?) 23:04, 17 July 2007 (UTC)
- Lets wait with it then. I've created something else that should suit the purpose: Commons:Announcements. Needs formatting though. It should be made into a little box similar to the Wikipedia Bulletin box that people have on their user pages. It will mainly contain maintanance information. I hope you are willing to help me improve its look, then we can add it to administrators user_talk pages. / Fred J 10:09, 18 July 2007 (UTC)
- Newsletters are hard. I was involved in this one for a while, and it petered out... people lost interest in creating it and there wasn't much to say any more it didn't seem. A project wide one may not run out of things to say, but it may run out of volunteers to create it, it tends to burn a person out. Just something to watch out for and try to avoid, because the idea of a newsletter itself is good... ++Lar: t/c 10:36, 18 July 2007 (UTC)
Tony's thinks bubbles
I agree about the problem of project size and the difficulty of being part of a large anonomous community. Encouraging projects may help. I'm not so sure about getting rid of the Village Pump. One real problem I find with Wikis is finding out how to do things, where to go, who to ask. It's great to have one central area where all sorts of discussions can go on, an easy place to find, somewhere there's likely to be someone interested enough to reply.
But there's not enough room around the pump for everyone to see/hear what's going on so we need to expand out into the village square and carry on seperate conversations, yet be able to see what's going on in other areas.
Can we perhaps have each discussion as a seperate sub-page (like FP image discussions), so those discussions can be easily linked to, or included into (transcluded), other pages. Eg VP can contain discussions and links to other specialist discussions (like an index). Discussions can be started in VP and if the discussion is more suited to some particular area (or areas), it can be moved to other discussion pages (eg project discussion pages) and a link left on the VP page without cutting/pasting but just editing links.
Archiving of discussions is simplified as links to discussions aren't broken and discussions can be easily referenced, indexed, or included anywhere.
I realise this is getting off topic and into implimentation details of one area, but that's where my mind wandered after reading this discussion, I'll come back later to address other points :-) --Tony Wills 12:30, 8 July 2007 (UTC)
- Umm, perhaps I should have looked at Commons:Journal first ;-) --Tony Wills 12:44, 8 July 2007 (UTC)
Juiced lemon's cocktail
I don't support the main line of your proposal, because I don't believe that people will take part in such imposed structures.
The major issue regarding Commons project is that it is currently unmanageable. There are too few rules, and no effective ways to create new ones or to improve the existing rules. More, administrators don't enforce them, and in the worst cases they infringe them.
So, in my opinion, it's urgent to create some sort of governmental system, like your proposal of Project Council. We need also a media to spread the informations to all Commons users, like the Commons:Journal.
If you can't achieve these two things, I think we'll never success in any significant agenda in Commons project. --Juiced lemon 17:44, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
- If I can't achieve those things? Hello, it's not only me here.... --pfctdayelise (说什么?) 22:53, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
I don't like the idea of an imposed government system. Due to the diverse nature of Commons, we are still in anarchy, with only few enforced guidelines, just like a small wiki. Unfortunately Commons is not a small wiki anymore, and the anarchy doesn't work anymore, so I agree that we need more vast and strictly enforced guidelines and policies to make Commons successful in the future, whether we like it or not. I personally absolutely don't like it, but I foresee that we will need something like an arbcom in the mid-term future to make it work...
- Boring but I really do agree with Bryan. I'm quite sure things aren't well controlled at present. There will be dark corners and things happening that no one knows about. In the end we will have to make some choices I guess about governance in some sense & although I subscribe to if it ain't broke don't fix it leaving it until it is broken may be very uncomfortable? --Herby talk thyme 12:36, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
- Yes, it's a few months since I wrote this now. So I no longer have such a strong conviction for it. :)
- What do you think about a jury-style system for an arbcom? Our "citizens" are users with a certain number of recent edits, and we somehow pick them randomly to be part of a jury, and they can refuse of course (we just call someone else). pfctdayelise (说什么?) 13:15, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
- Hm. That actually quite fits Commons: If it ain't broken, don't fix it until it is broken. I'm not to sure whether a jury system will work. We have a large community, but I think that the real Commons community, people who are active in multiple fields and Commons as a whole (people like pfctdayelise ;)) is no larger than 50-70 users. And dispute resolution is something most people don't want to burn their hands on, so I think there will be only few people interested in jurying.
- Also I saw a (Dutch) comment on a talk page that only few people felt home at Commons and that there is no real community. I was interested and asked for a more detailed reply. Some interesting points:
- Everybody works in his own corner and is not interested in other parts of Commons.
- There is a feeling that we (admins) purposely do not intervene in the whole categorizing stuff.
- This user was at least partially right. Not sure how to solve it though :( -- Bryan (talk to me) 14:51, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
- Don't know the answers but I think this is worth keeping alive. Books is not dissimilar, those working on a book do just that and generally do not get involved in the community BUT the community will not exist if people are not part of it. You can't force people to participate but unless they do any form of mandate for action will be lacking.
- Let's allow ourselves a small pat on the back - I think we are tackling some users who really did do their own thing regardless. However I for one now avoid categories like the plague --Herby talk thyme 15:00, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
- I expect that the number of people who think of Commons as their "home" wiki is pretty small. Probably far smaller than even the user set Bryan refers to (people active in multiple facets of Commons..., call them the core cadre.) which I think he is optimistic to size at 50-70. I'd like to think I am active in multiple fields here (even though, like Herby, I run screaming from any thinking about how to categorise things, it hurts my brain!), but I don't think this is my home wiki. (it's probably a close second though). Also the core cadre fluctuates over time. All these things make it difficult, I think, to introduce a representative democracy governance approach. When thinking about change it is useful to try to determine what problem you are trying to solve. To me while there are governance/behaviour problems, the bigger problem is the vast backlog of things to do in various areas... would a representative powerstructure be likely to empower additional volunteers to address that? or would it be likely to disempower? If people are disempowered byt things like perceptions of admins not solving behaviour problems, perhaps doing better at getting some guidelines in place and getting more consistent enforcement of them (by that core cadre standing shoulder to shoulder when guidelines are proposed and when issues arise) would be better than more government structure? I don't know the answer either. Good discussion though. ++Lar: t/c 09:50, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
- We will never have a high proportion of users who feel this is their home wiki. But, I don't think that should stop anyone from feeling they are (or can be) part of the Commons community. People do tend to just do all their own little things, and not necessarily look at the big picture of how Commons works. But we can make those connections and help people to feel that all the small changes are part of the big picture. That is a very wiki idea, after all.
- I don't know how we can possibly have more "consistent enforcement" of behaviour problems without becoming more police-like. Perhaps the problem is that admins are like police and politicians (leaders), when they are roles that make more sense to be separated. --pfctdayelise (说什么?) 10:27, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
Thank you Pfctdayelise for making this proposal. I think that it is important to have a greater structure on Commons functionality. I would like to ask: Does the Wikipedia en:Athenian democracy of one person one vote function? Do you remember the prosal to turn the verifiability and Reliable Sources policy into a unified Attribution policy? The sudden emerge of hundreds or maybe thousands of users who had not taken part in the previous discussion and who opposed on the grounds that they didn't understand the change led to this change being discarded.
Does democracy actually work for such a large project as the english Wikipedia? Why do thousands of Wikipedia users have to spend their time voting for various policy and meta functions that they don't have neither time nor interest to read deeper into?
And if so, maybe Commons too at some time would benefit from having a community of representatives that make ultimate decisions on the policies, including the categorization policy and others.
- Revolution is around the corner! I agree with Fred to quite a degree (however if you think Commons is bad try Wikibooks - less users and much less chance of getting anything changed!). The issue is also a "worldwide" one but maybe that is too big for here.
- I guess elected community representatives is some areas (who could approve aspects of policy) would be a good idea. My voice on licensing should be ignored, however on control of disruptive users, external links and maybe inactivity I consider my voice to be valid.
- However a favourite quote of mine is from Richard Branson who said in terms of business management "I believe in benevolent dictatorship - if the benevolent dictator is me". In the past days I have been in a discussion about voting on Meta (relevant here) as folk from "local" wikis turn up to vote for "their" admins (in RfAs). We all believe our opinion is valid and other people who agree with us are fine but.... --Herby talk thyme 10:58, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
- Wiki is not democracy as in one-person-one-vote. We've all got better things to do. :)
- Representatives are an interesting idea but I am just not sure it would help in resolving some long-running disputes. The best system, the kind of consensus we try to have, is the one that incorporates every major opinion about a thing and tries to find a way to accommodate them all (or otherwise convince some people to change their mind). But for major disputes it's really hard to find a solution that's not divisive. So our current strategy of just, um, ignoring them, is interesting. :) But it can't continue forever. pfctdayelise (说什么?) 10:31, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
I'm not at all sure that Commons is as broken as seems to be implied. Generally (with a couple of exceptions) things work pretty well, and people get involved in what interests them without any sort of top-down coercion. There's remarkably little dispute. The flexibility and lack of a complex series of written procedural rules is one thing that differentiates us from en:W, and in a good way. I'd be sad if we felt the need for a formal power structure, with committees telling us what to do, ArbComs and so on. We'd end up being just like en:W, where a vast amount of time is spent arguing angrily about process, wasting effort that would better be spent on productive work.
Perhaps the one area on Commons where we fall down is the community's lack of ability to address any sort of major or policy issue - categories being a prime example. Also, perhaps Admins allow disruptive users more freedom to disrupt than they might.
Can we perhaps set up some means of tackling these policy issues without losing our distinctive way of working? I have in mind a series of Advisory Boards whose remit is to address these policy issues and then recommend how they should be dealt with. Asssuming the Board members are sufficiently well-respected in their respective fields, a Board recommendation on, say, how we should handle categories would be very persuasive and could be adopted by the community without needing to impose a solution from on high. Possible Advisory Boards could be:
- Copyright/licensing - advising on what Commons' acceptance policy should be
- Labelling - advising on media labelling, description, categories, galleries etc
- Software/tools - advising on software development
- Behaviour - advising on policy relating to blocks, user behaviour etc
- Admin - advising on policy relating to Admin reponsibilities and powers
- Liaison - advising on how best to liaise with other Wikis
- Publicity - advising on how to 'spread the word' about Commons, bring in more content etc
--MichaelMaggs 16:38, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
- As my comment with Bryan above. The discussion should keep going whatever else. Not broke really but maybe straining a bit? If it gets like en wp I will be out of here I assure you. So - searching the middle ground maybe.
- I like the "Board" idea (community sanction will always be an issue). Some of those I could contribute to (& would) others are outside my expertise.
- We must look carefully at disruptive users as well. Putting yourself on the other side - someone who is allowed to disrupt your work will leave you demotivated and with the impression on inaction (disinterest even) in admins. Language here is an issue and I am no good example - Babel Fish works to a degree but leaves out a lot of tone at the very least. Scrappy sorry - tight on time today --Herby talk thyme 07:40, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
- I like advisory boards better than a formal governance structure, especially since the board members would be presumably drawn from people who have expertise in the matter. But self selected boards sometimes end up with people who have loud voices and who are flag collectors. So for boards to work, there has to be some sort of understanding of how the initial people get put on them... once they are started, they can be self governing. Perhaps if a grass roots effort created a few by core cadre people making a few key suggestions to people who ought to be on the board to "just go off and start this board on X with the 5 of you"?? ++Lar: t/c 09:55, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
- Thanks for your comment, Michael. I don't think Commons is massively "broken" but I just see warning signs that if we don't pay attention to, I'm worried things will get worse. The kind of way we've done things so far is not going to continue to scale. (If it even does any more right now.) Any time a community member leaves with a feeling of disappointment... that is a big concern for me. It can't always be avoided, but I think we do need to work to avoid it when EVER possible. When that happens, I think, "the community has failed". And community is what makes Commons work in the first place. Sure, Commons would still "work" in one sense if everyone just treated it like their personal Photobucket and no one cared enough to do any maintenance work, delete things, sort things, improve things, etc. But it would not be the Commons it is today, and it wouldn't be the Commons I want to see in the future.
- How can we massively decentralise power structures? --pfctdayelise (说什么?) 10:45, 1 September 2007 (UTC)
- I have been thinking about the advisory boards and they make a lot of sense to me.
- Lar made some good comments about how it might get started. Would anyone like to give suggestions on that?
- It would seem essential that the advisors are really trusted and respect in their capacity. Could an advisory board just be set up, and people who might qualify be invited and add themselves to a list of advisors for that board, or should they be elected in? Should there be a coordinator? Should new members be selected by the sitting members? Is there a risk that the advisory boards will become overly hierarchical a-la Esperanza?
- Fred J 18:35, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
I had in mind a vote to appoint Board members, as self-selecting Boards would find it difficult to get community support. Perhaps 5 members per Board, initially, with users who want to get involved being asked to nominate themselves or (preferably) have someone else nominate them. The election rules would need to be worked out first, though - and this time we should also work out in advance how Board members might get kicked off eg for lack of activity. --MichaelMaggs 21:34, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
- I guess two things I think about are... 1) how can we minimise bureaucracy? Setting up multiple advisory boards == a hell of a lot of politicking potential. Maybe not now or in six months, but watch it take off in the future. So there is a tough question of determining how much is necessary. The second thing is, how does any group like a Board have legitimate authority? Having a leadership group that is generally ignored, or mocked, or thought to be illegitimate, is pointless.
- Another thing is, how can we avoid the damaging situation of cocooning, where we surround ourselves with people who think the same way we do? While that's very comfortable, it could prove pretty quickly to be pretty dangerous. pfctdayelise (说什么?) 11:19, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
- After thinking about it some more, I am being worried that setting up multiple advisory boards might not actually be optimal.
- Nominating and voting people to multiple advisory board might be more troublesome than useful. Then, there is the risk of conflicts when the topics of the advisory boards overlap. And will we even get say 36 people to the boards, or should we allow people to occupy more than one seat?
- I am thinking how about just having one advisory board?
- Fred J 15:38, 14 September 2007 (UTC)